Moderna (MRNA) stock recently plunged over reported disagreements with government scientists about the company’s vaccine trial process. Today in the pre-market, the stock price is around $60.90.
Biotech firm Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) is one of the leading companies in the global race to a COVID-19 cure. As part of its efforts to support the creation of a vaccine, the U.S. government donated nearly half a billion dollars to Moderna. However, there is now some tension between Moderna and U.S. scientists over the vaccine trial, causing a plunge in the company’s stock.
Initially, Moderna announced a trial for its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, to begin in July. However, the recent spar between the biotech firm and government scientists has delayed this trial for more than two weeks. According to a Reuters report, the company is not cooperating with government scientists on protocols for the trial. This is despite the fact that Moderna has “never produced an approved vaccine or run a large trial.” Moderna is still at loggerheads with U.S. scientists over the trial process and has refused advice from these experts.
Disputes over Moderna Vaccine Trials
Citing unnamed sources, the Reuters report suggests that Moderna’s disagreement over the process is quite worrisome, considering its lack of experience with a large-scale human trial. The sources blamed Moderna’s inexperience on its lack of capable in-house experts.
Moderna has, however, admitted the misunderstanding with the government’s experts. According to a company spokesman, the inexperience is spread across the biotech sector.
It was noted that:
“It has not been smooth or easy… no one has ever done anything like this before – not Moderna, not the NIH, and not any of the other companies”.
In response to news of the vaccine dispute, Moderna stock has taken a hit. MRNA, which had performed well in the past three months, has dropped slowly over the last few days. In the two days before July 7, MRNA lost over 10%. However, the stock has begun to erase these losses, with a current 0.88% drop over the last five days.
Presently at $60.90 in premarket figures, MRNA lost 0.31% from yesterday’s $61.09 close. However, the company currently boasts of 212.32% in year-to-date gains.
Regardless of the dispute, the Chief of infectious diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University has come to Moderna’s defense. According to Stephen Thomas, trying to create a vaccine is tricky enough to cause a disagreement even when there is no pressure. He added:
“Those tensions, in and of themselves, don’t indicate that Moderna is incapable of doing it.”
Along with other vaccine developers, Moderna is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and other vaccine experts such as Novavax Inc (NASDAQ: NVAX).
Interestingly, the U.S. government is having smooth relationships with other pharmaceutical companies working on a vaccine. On an occasion, government experts gave some advice to COVID-19 trial participants. While other companies obeyed, Moderna argued the suggestion, referring to it as a “hassle” that will affect the trial process.
Regardless of the disagreements, the government still suggests that Moderna is leading the race to a COVID-19 vaccine. Recently, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) confirmed to Reuters that Moderna’s vaccine candidate is the most developed and the most effective in early trials. Other competitors, including Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), and AstraZeneca Plc (LON: AZN), are also working to produce a vaccine.